While announcing that the peak of flu season appears to be behind us, local health officials on Wednesday cautioned that the disease remains both common and dangerous. The risk of serious illness and death for those infected with the virus does not diminish along with a drop in cases, said Grayson County Health Director John Teel.

While announcing that the peak of flu season appears to be behind us, local health officials on Wednesday cautioned that the disease remains both common and dangerous. The risk of serious illness and death for those infected with the virus does not diminish along with a drop in cases, said Grayson County Health Director John Teel.


"The State Health Department says that the incidents of new flu cases seems to have peaked right around the first of the year. But there’s still plenty of it; it’s still called widespread in Texas — that primarily means that almost every county in Texas has cases. So that’s not a good thing. But the percentage of people showing up at a doctor’s office complaining of influenza-like-illness is probably half of what it was one month ago."


Health providers have reported that positive test results among those experiencing flu-like symptoms have fallen from approximately 25 percent to 9 percent over the last six weeks, said county officials. But the possibility of a second peak, which is uncommon but not unheard of, still remains.


"It’s usually one peak and done, but there have been years when there was a primary peak in January that tailed off to where everybody starts to rest easy, and then you start to see all those numbers go back up in late February or early March or mid-March," said Teel.


Despite the fact that the dominant strain of flu this year is identical to the strain responsible for the 2009 swine flu scare, the health director explained that vaccine makers were far better prepared to face the disease in 2013.


"In ’09, it was called a novel virus; nobody’s body in the world had ever seen it, which is why it was thought that it would be a devastating worldwide illness," said Teel. "So there was no vaccine for it for a long time. And luckily the world scrambled, found a vaccine for it, and started shipping it."


Teel emphasized repeatedly that a decline in positive cases does not mean the public can rest easy, especially healthy adults who are particularly susceptible to contagion this year.


"The flu season seems to be slowing, and that’s a good thing, if we don’t have a second wave. But there is a young man in one of our hospitals right now fighting for his life on a ventilator — a young, strong man who had not been immunized.


"This disease will be as dangerous on April Fools’ Day this year as it was in December. There’s nothing to rest yet about and say, ‘We must be past the flu season.’ We’re in the middle of the flu season."